By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity baseball team was clinging onto third place in the Central Valley Conference after a win and loss last week.
The Celts (6-6 in league, 10-12 overall) will have to win its final games of the season with McKay, North Salem and West Salem high schools to earn a berth in the 32-team state playoff tournament that begins next week.
“We need to play our best baseball all year so far and come out with the same intensity and the same fire we have in all our home games,” said Jacob Wood.
McKay trails McNary by a single game, but the Celts have split contests with each team so far. Taking a win against North, the second place team in the CVC, would go a long way.
“We need to expect to see their best pitcher and we’ll have our best pitcher, but we need to be ready for a fight,” Wood said.
Last week began with a 6-3 win for McNary over South Salem High School Monday, May 5. The Celts paired three-run first and third innings with a strong defensive stand against the Saxons’ nine hits.
Wood started things off in the first inning by reaching first base on a fielding error. He reached second on wild pitch and scored on a single by Jordan Barchus. Hayden Gosling doubled to put Barchus on third, and Tim Hays plated Wood with a single to shortstop. Tristin Mistkawi doubled to centerfield and scored Gosling for a 3-0 lead.
In the third, Barchus scored on a single by Gosling. Goff hit a home run over the left field fence to score Gosling and take a 6-0 lead. It was Goff’s second home run in as many weeks.
Working on two outs, the Saxons scored two on a triple in the top of the seventh. On the next batter, Mistkawi connected with Goff at first base for the final out.
Gosling went 2 for 3 with a RBI, a run scored and a double. Barchus pitched a complete game nine hits and three runs.
West Salem struck early and often in its game with McNary Tuesday, May 6. By the start of the fourth inning, the Celtics were working to come back from a 9-0 deficit. Barchus scored on a passed ball and Mistkawi brought Gosling home on a single, but the Titans chalked up another five runs in the bottom of the frame.
Gosling plated Jacob Vasas on a single in the top of the fifth. Mickey Walker scored from second base on an error. Goff drove in Gosling to close the gap to 14-5.
West was up 19-5 in the top of the seventh when Walker scored on a fielding error and Goff singled to plate Barchus.
Travis Klampe, Sam Hayes and Nick LaFountaine took turns on the bump, but Klampe took the loss. Barchus and Goff led at the plate with both going 2 for 4 on the day.
Wood said he hopes the team can make a leap off of what has been a roller coaster of a season. The Celts are undefeated at home and struggle in almost every away game.